2009-04-17 / Sports

Rockaway Outdoors/Tales From The Wheelhouse

By Captain Vinnie Calabro

Last Friday morning saw a break in the weather as we departed Shellbank Creek. The familiar signs of bunker schools greeted us from the North Channel Bridge up toward Woodhull Creek.

The schools of bait were spread out with the flood tide and full moon making them especially cagey. This particular morning, the water temperature was around 47 degrees, which is cold for this time of year.

It was encouraging to see the bait show up and if all plays out, the bass, blues and weakfish shouldn't be too far behind. The ospreys already set up their residence atop the day marker at the tip of the north south cut; business as usual.

The night tides have been producing some catches of mixed size bass, some on bunker baits, but clams seem to be the meal ticket for the moment. Crossing the bridges, one can see fishermen up top and along the shores adjacent to the bridges. The north and south corners on the west side of the North Channel seemed to be the most populated.

The euphoric feeling of baits arrival was soon put into check as we tried to find a few pre-season fish for our friends. Not much on the sonar as we worked the shallows; an occasional schoolie, carefully released but no appreciable amount of bass this day.

Anchoring the boat, our first drop for flounders was dismal, one short. The next drop saw a few keepers, nice fish at that, but no amount to be content with. You know you're in trouble when your trip revolves around past fishing stories, but still we continued to fill our chum pots, crack some mussels and bait our hooks.

I covered the bay up into Inwood and on this Good Friday, the fishing seemed to be off, most of the anglers I spoke with said the same one or two fish; a banner catch would be six. It was a day waiting to "happen" but it never did with east winds overcast at times uncomfortable, but not unfishable.

Saturday saw an instant replay in the weather as surface water temperatures dipped into the low to mid forties. I passed on the Easter bonnet Sunday.

Instead I had my rain gear on as I braved the icy decks on my skiff and steamed around the bay. Conservation was out making their rounds as with most law enforcement a thankless job with no holidays. Monday the wind backed off just a bit, I covered the entire Back Bay with nothing to show except a wind burn.

Across from the golf course up in Inwood, some seals were seen frolicking on the marshes. I think that's a good indicator of the current freeze we are in.

A family of dolphins has been hanging around the south pier across from Inwood Park, noshing on the schools of herring and bunker. Tuesday saw similar weather and some scattered showers. For the moment, one must remain patient and wait for some warm days. Generally when the waters are in the mid-fifties, things begin to happen.

I guess the highlight of the week was the whale by the big bridge on Friday. I think he or she departed and left the bay; maybe that's a good omen. I'll be fishing just about every day from here on. On April 15, striped bass fishery opens in our area. Until the next tide…

For reports, comments or shout outs, call Captain Vinnie at 516- 728-6952.

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